2021 NC Renewable Energy Challenge

Elementary, Middle, High School and College Students

2021 NC Renewable Energy Challenge –

Date Coming Soon!

The Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), in partnership with KidWind, Jennette’s Pier and Appalachian State University, will host the 3rd Annual North Carolina Renewable Energy Challenge at the CSI campus site in Wanchese, North Carolina this Spring.   This competition will ask students to engineer an alternative energy device and compete against each other to create the most efficient device in either solar, wind and ocean energy.

Plans for the 2021 NC Renewable Energy Challenge are in process.  Ideally we would like to have an in-person event this spring, but they may not be possible.  If we cannot meet in person we will most likely offer a hybrid event.  The event would have the same categories as before, and individual students or student teams would ship us their devices to be tested live during the event.  We expect to have more information and details very soon.

This year’s event will include wind turbine, solar and ocean energy competitions with divisions to include graduate, undergraduate, high school, and middle and elementary school students.  The goal of the competition is to increase engineering solutions for the alternative energies available in North Carolina.  There will be some travel funding available for teams, or if we have to go to the hybrid event we will be able to provide some funding for the shipping of the devices to CSI.  

Part of the NC Renewable Energy Challenge includes the regional KidWind Challenge event (wind turbine construction).  KidWind is a nationwide initiative to help students learn about renewable energy and hone their engineering skills through the spirit of competition. Since the first event in 2009, the KidWind Challenge has hosted more than 11,000 students at 123 events hosted across 19 states. During the event, teams from eastern North Carolina will showcase and test their handcrafted wind turbines, and present their design process to a panel of judges. Teams will learn about advancements in other fields of renewable energy, including the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy research program run by the Coastal Studies Institute.

Event Details

“The NC Renewable Energy Challenge  is a fun way for students to learn about wind power and other renewable energy sources,” said David Sybert, K-12 Education Specialist with the Coastal Studies Institute. “Competitions like this promote 21st-century skills that better prepare our students for the growing renewable energy industry.”

In an in-person event, student teams will participate in “instant” challenges which will require the team to problem solve and compete in challenges that will test their critical thinking.

There are updated rules for the 2021.  Stay tuned! Wind and solar challenges click here 2020 KidWind Challenge Manual, 2020 KIDWIND Rulebook and click here for 2020 Ocean Energy Manual.  For more information about the KidWind Challenge, visit kidwindchallenge.org.  This year’s national KIDWIND competition (top 2 winning teams in middle and high school divisions will qualify) will take place in Denver, CO from June 2-4, 2020. 

Additional Ocean Energy Information

  1. North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Project – Learn about the work being done in North Carolina to harness energy from ocean waves and currents. 
  2. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Ocean Current Energy 
  3. BOEM Technology White Paper

* CSI Ocean Energy Lesson Plan focused on Faraday’s Law

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


ECU’s Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU’s Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.




The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


The CSI Board of Directors consists of professionals with strong backgrounds in coastal issues including research, development, outreach, education, and policies that affect coastal communities. The Board promotes the UNC System’s mission in helping it serve the people of North Carolina at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor at the Coastal Studies Institute. The Board meets twice a year to discuss the projects and progress of CSI.


Contact Us

Contact Info

The Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345
Wanchese, NC 27981



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